1,000 signatures reached
To: Auckland Council (Notified Consents Hearing and other pertinent committees) and Waitemata Local Board:
Save Western Springs Native Forest
We call on Auckland Council to stop their Resource Consent to destroy the majority of the 90+ year old native forest in their plan to fell the pine trees in the Significant Ecological Area of Western Springs regenerating native Forest.
We call on Auckland Council to require
• Professional management of the forest and surgical removal of only trees pre-disposed to failure;
• Minimising loss and damage to the existing regenerating native bush under the pines;
• Phased restoration planting over several years leading to replacement specimen trees.
• To work with resident volunteers in partnership to manage the Forest from now on and its future development.
Why is this important?
Waitemata Local Board has voted to destroy Central Auckland’s only native forest significant ecological area which contains its tallest trees. In spite of strong community opposition the vote was 4 to 3.
Originally 700 trees, this forest has its own self-regulating system which has, in the last 97 years, digested more than 500 trees, that have fallen or been cut down. Less than 200 remain which Council is determined to fell, drag and extract/harvest in one very expensive operation.
This will destroy the majority of the native forest understory containing many supposedly ‘protected’ native trees, never surveyed.
Auckland Council claims it will plant a native podocarp forest but the plans don’t stack up. The risks are enormous and all is contingent on appropriate long-term maintenance in a climate emergency. It will also take 30 - 50 years.
At the five-and-a-half hour meeting on 3 November, unusually large numbers of Council officers were in the room including two Executive Directors. This level of management by Council officers was indicative of the control that Council staff have asserted to persuade the Board that destroying this Forest was the only solution. Control they also asserted in managing the community opposition and trying (unsuccessfully) to split our community by excluding stakeholder residents who have led the opposition. The task of Council staff is to maintain neutrality not to manage our elected representatives to engineer support for Council’s maverick projects.
Council community engagement and consultation have been a sham: disingenuous, bullying, lacking in openness and transparency.
Consultation with the community was required in the 2015 Board decision but it never happened. The 2018 Board decision to proceed to Resource Consent was taken in the knowledge that Council had not consulted with community.
The Resource Consent was granted in May 2019. Whilst it was notified, it is a Council process controlled by Council. It is quasi–judicial, not a forum for community consultation nor is it user-friendly.
In January 2019, whilst stakeholder residents were on holiday, Council started the sham emergency works which were finally stopped by residents. To this day all but one of those trees remain standing.
The Environment Court appeal followed. Council demonstrated, at vast cost to us ratepayers, that its position was entrenched and Council had deeper pockets than community. An unhappy settlement resulted.
The 2019 newly-elected Board included some members who take seriously their duty to represent the community. They were prepared to listen to community and put the brakes on Council implementing its Resource Consent.
Recently Council spent $70,000 on tree assessments (that should have been done in 2015) which confirmed community’s tree assessments and expert advice that the majority of the pine forest was acceptable risk and only a small number of the trees need management. The management option was feasible but Council refused to work up this option and the Local Board broke its promise to do so.
Recently disclosed assessments of the costs of Council’s proposal demonstrate it will cost us ratepayers in excess of $2 million. Whereas the community’s preferred proposal of skilled management would cost an estimated $250,000.
At a time when Council has substantial financial difficulties this Board decision makes no sense.
Community are aware that the issues are greater than the Forest alone. They are undeterred by the Local Board decision and continue to fight for a managed solution for the Western Springs Native Forest.
How it will be delivered
The petition was delivered to the Local Board on Tuesday 18 February 2020. There were 1600 signatories then, there are now over 2000.
Please sign the petition.
Thanks to all of you for your support.